Saturday 25 May 2013

The dying art of political oratory

Max Atkinson has written an interesting analysis of the decline of political oratory:
...a major change in the past 25 years has been the replacement of political speeches by broadcast interviews as the main form of political communication in Britain – even though interviews hardly ever result in anything other than bad news about the politicians themselves. As a result, effective political speech-making has become a dying art, in which there appears to be a curious collaboration between the media and politicians to continue relegating the coverage of speeches in favour of the broadcast interview.
At the same time, the politicians are also doing their bit to eliminate much of the passion and liveliness that were once a normal part of political rallies – by speaking in rather strange venues to audiences with little or no interest in politics, and certainly no motivation to applaud or boo anything they might hear.
That is the irony of the communication strategy of leading politicians and their advisers. In their desperation to ‘connect’ with the electorate, they succeed in doing the precise opposite.

I made this point in my criticism (here and here) of the Liberal Democrats’ ‘message script’. That contrived approach to communication sucks the life out of politics. But your average political adviser seems incapable of understanding this point, and so cannot understand why the likes of Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson have more popular appeal than the conformist, over-managed ‘on message’ clones.

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